U.S. Navy illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kevin Murphy/Released

Story and graphic by
MC3 Kevin Murphy

Students who are in trouble at school go see the principal, professional athletes answer to professional sports referees for their misconduct and the United States Navy has a disciplinary review board (DRB) of chiefs to keep Sailors in-line.

DRB has many purposes, but the overall function is to identify a discrepancy in a Sailor’s performance or behavior and come up with ways to help fix the problem.

At a DRB, chiefs listen to Sailors’ cases and determine if the case should be handled by an executive officer inquiry (XOI), a non-judicial punishment (NJP), or be dismissed.

Chiefs also inform the Sailor of rights and accusations, and make recommendations for punishment which must be approved by the executive officer.

Although DRBs are a form of punishment, not all cases go up the chain of command, because chiefs want to handle discrepancies at the lowest level possible.

“I hate sending people up to see the Captain for non-judicial punishment,” said Stennis Command Master Chief (AW/SS) Stan Jewett. “Anything we can handle at our level to prevent the next Sailor from making a mistake, we will handle. There is hard mentoring at a DRB; we want to make sure the Sailor leaves straight as an arrow. In some cases we have to send a Sailor up the chain with our recommended punishment.”

The most common cases chiefs deal with include Sailors who were driving while intoxicated, unauthorized absences and “gun-decked” maintenance.

The tone of the DRB is set on a case-by-case basis depending on the severity of the case, and has a lot to do with the attitude of the Sailor in trouble.

“If Sailors come in open-minded and are willing to take criticism and feedback with a positive attitude, ready to change their ways or fix the problem, it can be a positive experience,” said Jewett.

Air Traffic Controlman Airman (AW) Kelly Dube, who recently went to DRB, says it gives Sailors a second chance to realize the mistakes made, and helps maintain discipline throughout the ship.

“I went in and displayed my best military bearing,” said Dube. “I was respectful and honest. They asked a few questions, I answered truthfully and they recommended that I go up to see the XO.

“I was reprimanded, but my DRB was short and to the point. I think my military bearing played a large role in the swiftness of my DRB because it showed the chiefs I was not taking the matter lightly.

“I learned that duty is taken very seriously; that all jobs, no matter how small or boring, are equally important to the ship,” said Dube.

DRB isn’t just a tool for punishment, an administrative legal process, or a way to rectify problems, but it is a preventive tool as well.

“Most people who go to DRB don’t want to come back [to do it again],” said Jewett.

“I heard you get confronted by a bunch of chiefs. Knowing that I’d have to answer to a board of chiefs or possibly the XO or CO makes me think twice about my actions,” said Logistics Specialist Seaman Joel Dunbar, who has never been to DRB.

Just like parents discipline their children, or the NFL suspends its players, every organization has its methods of discipline, and the Navy’s DRB continues to help keep Sailors in line.